Instead of being able to lean over the cubicle and discuss an issue, or easily arrange a meeting, they instead often have to pick up the slack or work around their absent colleague.

For some, the empty chair next to them makes it harder to work. ”I didn’t see anyone from [my] team until 10.30 or 11am and it’s not really motivating you,” one co-worker told British researchers.

The researchers could not readily explain why productivity would rise, but said most workers seemed able to accommodate their regularly absent colleagues – unless there needed to be a quick meeting.

Couldn’t explain it? Really? I suspect reducing the possibility for the unmotivated slacker in the adjoining cubicle to interrupt your work is the biggest factor in improved productivity. If you have to plan your time, your work and your meetings it makes you think things through before you start interrupting everyone else.